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Santa - The Brand

By Harry Hoover
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005

Every Christmas Eve, a burglar named Santa busts into homes around the world, but he has never been charged with B&E. He has one of the best, most positive brands around and it continues to inoculate him against any hint of impropriety, as it has for generations.

Why does Santa's brand remain so strong? Because Santa is:

• Consistent

• Unique

• Customer-focused

• Viral

Let's examine these to see what lessons we can learn.

First off, Santa has a positioning statement and has used it to stay true to his mission for decades.

It is this consistency that has helped him build a brand franchise that is the envy of other marketers. No matter what kind of communication vehicle he uses, the message is measured against the positioning statement.

Fed-Ex and UPS also deliver packages, but they don't do it in the middle of the night in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer. Santa has cornered the market on uniqueness.

He has not strayed from the market he identified in his positioning statement. His target is not every carbon-based life form. He focuses on kids. End of story. Talk about customer intimacy. Santa has perfected data mining.

Who else knows if you:

• are sleeping or awake

• want a Barbie or a baseball bat

• have been naughty or nice

Santa invented viral marketing. As his customers get older and become parents, they market to the emerging group of customers for him. They know that if they deliver Santa's message, they will benefit from their children's good behavior.

And it's not just the parents. Other marketers help him, too. Santa has never spent a dime on advertising. He has used good public relations tactics to develop, manage and maintain solid relationships with marketers who advertise for him. Consider the Coca-Cola ads featuring Mr. Claus. Think of all the newspaper inserts that carry his picture during the holidays. Then, there are all those helpers in department stores everywhere.

Because of his adherence to simple marketing tactics, everyone loves Santa. Not bad for an old burglar with a reindeer fetish.

About the Author
Harry Hoover has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at (


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